Three Eucharistic Miracles: Which Cases Have Undergone the Most Extensive Scientific Analysis?

The three apparent Eucharistic miracles that have undergone the most extensive scientific analysis happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1992, 1994, 1996); Tixtla, Mexico (2006); and Sokólka, Poland (2008).

Close-ups of portions (left and right) of the reliquary (center) exhibited on rear-lighted panels highlight the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy.
Close-ups of portions (left and right) of the reliquary (center) exhibited on rear-lighted panels highlight the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy. (photo: Public domain)

Interest in Eucharistic miracles has skyrocketed within the Catholic world during the last 10 years, especially with the advent of YouTube videos on the subject. 

The three apparent Eucharistic miracles that have undergone the most extensive scientific analysis happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1992, 1994, 1996); Tixtla, Mexico (2006); and Sokólka, Poland (2008).

“In each case, it is the bishop of the diocese who must approve these miracles,” explained Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, Ph.D., head of the Magis Center and an EWTN host. “For a Eucharistic miracle, the burden of proof lies with the scientific panel.”

Here is a rundown of the most important facts to know about each of these Eucharistic miracles:

 


Buenos Aires

The parish of St. Mary in Buenos Aires was the site of three Eucharistic miracles. 

On May 1, 1992, after Mass, a Eucharistic minister was placing reserved consecrated Hosts into the tabernacle when he noticed two pieces of consecrated Hosts had fallen onto the corporal, the cloth on the altar. A priest was called, who placed the Hosts into a vessel of holy water (as dictated by Church procedure) and then into the tabernacle. On May 8, it was discovered that the Host fragments had become a reddish color. Then on May 10, during evening Masses, drops of blood were observed on the patens, the small plates that hold the consecrated Hosts. 

On July 24, 1994, while a Eucharistic minister went to get the pix (a disk-shaped container that holds consecrated Hosts) from the tabernacle, he noticed a drop of blood running along its side. 

On Aug. 15, 1996, during Mass, a consecrated Host was found in the back of the church in a candle holder. Father Alejandro Pezet retrieved the Host, which was dirty, and placed it into a vessel of holy water to dissolve. On Aug. 26, it was discovered that the Host had several stains of blood. These stains became larger every day afterwards. Only this miracle was investigated.

Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who would become Pope Francis, was contacted. He immediately had the Host professionally photographed. For reasons which are not clear, it was decided not to publicize the event and to keep the Host in the holy water. The Host stayed this way for three years and never decomposed. 

In 1999, a scientific investigation was begun under the leadership of Ricardo Castañon Gómez of Bolivia, a clinical psychologist who specializes in brain chemistry. Eight scientists were involved in this investigation from four continents. 

On Oct. 21, 1999, Castañon brought a sample to a forensic laboratory in San Francisco to do analysis. On Jan. 28, 2000, scientists found fragments of human DNA in the sample, but not enough to produce amplified DNA. Dr. Robert Lawrence, a top histopathologist, who studies tissues, found human skin and white blood cells upon further analysis. He stated in an interview that the white blood cells were living at the time they were collected, even though they normally die within two hours after being taken from a body.

In 2001, Castañon sent samples to Dr. Edoardo Linoli in Arezzo, Italy, who said the sample was heart tissue and had white blood cells.

In 2002, samples were sent to Dr. John Walker of the University of Sydney in Australia, who said that the sample was muscle cells with intact white blood cells.

On March 2, 2004, samples were brought to New York for analysis by Dr. Frederic Zugibe, a famous cardiologist and forensic pathologist at Columbia University. He was not told what the sample was. Zugibe found that the sample was heart muscle near the left ventricle. It was inflamed and had white blood cells, meaning the heart was alive and pumping when the sample was taken. The heart showed signs of being under severe stress. When told that the sample came from a consecrated Host, Zugibe was speechless.

Castañon was an atheist when he began the investigation but converted to Catholicism by the end of this investigation.

This Eucharistic miracle does not yet have Church approval. 

“The problem is that they waited so long,” said Father Spitzer about the investigation. “It took so long to get the genetic sample.” 

“I personally don’t have a problem with it. The evidence was so overwhelming with Dr. Castañon that he converted and so overwhelming with Dr. Zugibe that he was unable to speak for five minutes. He said outright, ‘This is naturalistically impossible if what you say is true,’” said Father Spitzer.

 


Tixtla

On Oct. 21, 2006, St. Martin of Tours parish in the Chilpancingo-Chilapa Diocese of Mexico held a retreat. Two priests and a nun were distributing Communion during Mass when the nun suddenly turned, with tears in her eyes, to face the priest next to her. The Host that she was holding had begun to ooze a reddish substance. 

Bishop Alejo Zavala Castro immediately came to see the Host and then convened a theological commission to study the event. In 2009, he contacted Castañon to conduct scientific research. Research was conducted between 2009 and 2012. Conclusions were presented in 2013. 

The reddish substance was found to be blood with hemoglobin and DNA of human origin. Two studies were conducted by prominent forensic experts using different methods. Both showed that the blood originated from the interior of the Host, excluding the hypothesis that someone could have placed blood in the Host from the outside.

The blood type was AB, the same blood type that was found in the Host of Lanciano and on the Holy Shroud of Turin. Microscopic analysis showed that the exterior part of the blood had been coagulated since October 2006. The interior layer of the blood was found to be fresh.

Intact white blood cells, red blood cells and macrophages were found. The tissue was found to be heart muscle, called myocardium. At the time of testing, DNA remnants were found, but not enough to produce amplified DNA. 

On Oct. 12, 2013, the bishop declared that what happened in Tixtla was a Eucharistic miracle. It has not yet been approved by Rome.

“In this case, there were 19 appendices to his [Castañon’s] report. He had practically every lab report imaginable in there. So I am sure that this had a bearing on the bishop’s approval,” said Father Spitzer.

 


Sokólka 

On Oct. 12, 2008, in St. Anthony’s Church, a consecrated Host fell to the ground during Mass. A woman who had been kneeling in order to receive Communion told the priest, who immediately placed the Host into a silver vessel with holy water. At the end of Mass, the sacristan — Sister Julia Dubowska — took the silver vessel and poured it into another vessel for increased safety. She then placed that vessel into a safe where the chalices were kept. 

On Oct. 19, 2008, Sister Julia opened the safe and smelled the aroma of unleavened bread. She then noticed that the Host was partially dissolved with strange red clots in the center. She told the pastor, who showed the Host to two other priests. The metropolitan archbishop was called, who came in to see it. 

On Oct. 30, the Host was taken out of the holy water by orders of the archbishop and placed on a corporal and put in a separate tabernacle in the rectory. 

The samples were sent to two laboratories in 2009. Pieces of the Host were sent to Drs. Maria Sobaniec-Lotowska and Stanislaw Sulkowski. Both scientists work at the Medical University of Bialystok as histopathologists, doctors who diagnose diseases in tissues and organs. 

When the samples were analyzed, the undissolved part of the Host was embedded in the cloth. The red blood clot was bright. Both studies concluded that the sample was myocardium of a living person who was near death.

The heart muscle fibers were intertwined with that of the bread, as if the Host had transformed partly into flesh. According to the declaration of Sobaniec-Lotowska, this was something that was impossible for human beings to do. 

“Even NASA scientists, who have at their disposal the most modern analytical techniques, would not be able to artificially recreate such a thing,” stated Sobaniec-Lotowska in her report.

No foreign substance was found in the sample. There has been no public information on a DNA test done on the Sokólka Host.

“They did transmission electron screening, which advanced knowledge of the Hosts to identify integration of the substance of the Host with the substance of the heart tissue with perfect irregular entanglements,” said Father Spitzer. “This is a very good reason why scientists would believe this.”

Added Father Spitzer, “The case has been submitted to the metropolitan for the area of Sokólka. He has not yet rendered a judgment.” 

 


The DNA Mystery

Scientists have never been able to get a DNA profile from any of the samples taken in Buenos Aires or Tixtla. This is despite the fact that they were able to find evidence of DNA remnants in the tissue and blood samples. The Sokolka scientists have never publicly stated that a DNA test was attempted on their sample. 

This inability to obtain a DNA profile from the Buenos Aires and Tixtla samples is scientifically puzzling.

Said Father Spitzer: “Dr. Castañon Gómez, in the case of Tixtla, got the sample to two DNA laboratories very quickly. The interesting thing about that was that the tissue was still living when the samples were taken to the labs. So, how decayed can living tissue be? Even if it is in the state of dying, it is certainly not decomposed to the point where a DNA profile would not be available. You must look for another cause of this mystery.” 

“For me, this does not undermine the authenticity of that miracle,” he continued. “My view is that it is because Jesus didn’t have a human father and that maybe that interferes with an amplifiable DNA profile. There was no genuine male contribution and somehow God produced that contribution himself so that Jesus could be born. Apparently, how that happens is a mystery to me, but I don’t think it was natural. I think in the future, if there is another Eucharistic miracle, you will never get another amplifiable DNA profile.” 

The Blessed Sacrament

A New Eucharistic Miracle in Latin America?

The local Honduran bishop has recognized a blood stain on a corporal; the scientific evidence and the notarized oaths of the witnesses were collected and sent to the Vatican for further investigation.